From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2011)|
Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County is a 600+ bed hospital located in south suburban Oak Forest, Illinois. It specializes in long-term care, Ventilator care, chronic disease and rehabilitation services.  It is part of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, which also includes the more prominent and newer John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.
Until recently, uninsured patients from other Cook County Hospitals requiring sub-acute, chronic, long term, ventilator care, or rehabilitation were sent to Oak Forest Hospital as an alternative to remaining in acute hospitals such as Cook County or Provident Hospital or going to nursing homes.
Oak Forest Hospital used to serve as an infirmary where the city of Chicago exiled their poor and mentally ill patients, as well as a sanitarium for patients with tuberculosis. The living conditions were very poor and the management was corrupt. With the start of suburban sprawl in the Oak Forest area in the 1940s and 1950s, this establishment cleaned up their act and became a more respectable hospital.
Many services and facilities at Oak Forest Hospital have been cut or closed down recently, including long term care units, some Rehabilitation services, and conveniences such as the hospital's cafeteria. Patients who lived in the long term care units, some for twenty years or more, have now been farmed out to unfamiliar and poor-quality nursing homes.
Originally, the Rock Island railroad line, which now runs from Chicago-LaSalle St. Station to Joliet, ran directly to Oak Forest Hospital, the "Cook County Poor Farm." Hospital patrons typically purchased a one-way ticket from Chicago to the hospital and stayed at the hospital. The town of Oak Forest developed to provide services to the hospital patrons and to its workers, and in the 1950s development in the area led to the rise of the Fieldcrest subdivision of Oak Forest, located south of the hospital grounds and separate from the rest of Oak Forest, a sort of "company town" for many of the hospital workers. The hospital is surrounded by woods, fields, and lakes (once truly the "Farm"), the St. Roch's Friary, the Midlothian Meadow Cook County Forest Preserve, and the haunting, tombstone-free St. Gabriel Cemetery ("potter's field").